Do you think there is a certain point in a brewery’s life where they should start to think about making these task forces? What would be a best practice for someone who’s at the 50,000 barrel mark that wants to figure out how they can be smarter about approaching new market opportunities?
I guess it really starts with what you want to do, right? Having a good idea of what the goal is. I mean, 50,000 barrels of beer is a legitimate business. I think that in the market landscape as it exists today, it’s becoming harder and harder for breweries to breakthrough into that broader large regional brewery or national brewery level. And the complexity that exists now, close to 7,000 breweries in this country, the markets are becoming more localized and there are more breweries per capita now than ever. Especially in more competitive markets. You’re talking close to a thousand, maybe even more than a thousand breweries in places like California. I believe we have over 400 here in Michigan. So I guess the first thing would be identifying what you want to do and where you want to go with your business.
Certainly, the brands we’ve established as a company and the consumer loyalties that we’ve established as a company have really pushed us to where we are at, with 600,000 barrels potentially this year. That’s not necessarily us really driving towards that, it’s really about creating more accessibility of our brands from a distribution standpoint as well as providing consumers with opportunities to find our brands. Consumers tend to pull our beer off the shelf when it’s available.
You’re now the sales trainer for the entire organization and you’re dealing with this massively competitive market. Can you talk to me a little bit about those opportunities that you’re seeing as well as some of the strategies that you’re implementing internally to make sure that your beer is getting put on the right shelf, with the right materials to catch the customer’s eye?
I think it certainly starts first and foremost with the liquid, right? We have a remarkably talented brewing team and it starts there. Also, it really pays tribute to the efforts and investments that we’ve made from a quality standpoint. Preserving quality, you know, making sure that the beer that is leaving the brewery is to brand and to spec. We don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of advancement in production. I think that’s one thing that Founders has done very, very well is kept their eyes on the fact we are a product driven company and we know that it all starts with the quality of the liquid in the keg, can, or bottle.
From there it’s turning people on to the brand. Especially early on, it’s a lot of grassroots. It’s a lot of standing in the aisles of grocery stores and sampling. A lot of beer festivals, trade shows, and a lot of face time with your distributor partners. Hitting the street generating that awareness and getting the quality product in front of people is kind of the first thing. We haven’t stopped with that. We still have a long way to go as a company from a distribution standpoint. There are a lot more customers to be had out there, you start by getting into those independent accounts and building your base. You become relevant from a local, then regional, then a national level.